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top picks

‘Monsters University’: No midterms on Halloween

“Monsters University.”

Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures

“Monsters University.”

If we wanted to be snarky, we might say that the really scary thing about “Monsters University” (2013) is the case of sequelitis that traditionally inspired Pixar just can’t seem to shake lately. The new DVD release comes on the heels of “Toy Story 3” and “Cars 2,” while “Finding Nemo” sequel “Finding Dory” is slated for release in 2016. But then, this is Pixar we’re talking about — of course the creative team does dependably entertaining work with their prequel tale of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) first getting to know their fright trade, and each other. (Any grown-ups still underwhelmed should at least by satisfied by the inclusion of the feature’s elegantly crafted lead-in short, “The Blue Umbrella.”) The disc’s extras, meanwhile, lack the customary kid-centric focus, but there are still bits that might connect. A “Monthropology” segment takes a technical look at conceptualizing the movie’s sprawling creature menagerie — but who knows, it might give the Crayola-scribbling crowd some inspiration for a variety-packed Halloween mural. For young’uns who’ve seen the original installment endlessly and made the continuity-stickler note, “Hey, didn’t Mike talk about knowing Sulley in fourth grade?,” deleted scenes include storyboards of the pair attending Frighten Elementary together. (Pixar boss John Lasseter ultimately said just let it go.) And director Dan Scanlon recalls that in searching for the right prequel story — and riffing on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? — the filmmakers considered making it Sulley’s big dream to become a dentist. Takes fangs to know fangs? (Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; 3-D, $45.99)

Universal Pictures

”R.I.P.D.”

ACTION

R.I.P.D. (2013)

Ryan Reynolds plays a flawed Boston cop ambushed and killed by partner Kevin Bacon, and ordered to do a century-long tour with the Rest in Peace Department, busting Judgment-evading supernatural baddies with Old West lawman Jeff Bridges. Sounds like it could rate with “Men in Black,” but Reynolds and Bridges are stuck with a muddled script, and the effects are uneven. As a summer multiplex
investment? Meh. As a Halloween viewing pick? Maybe. And you’ll like-ly appreciate the ubiquitous Boston location touches, including a peek in- side the Green Monster. Extras: alternate openings, featurettes. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; 3-D, $49.98)

FANTASY/THRILLER

BYZANTIUM (2013)

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A couple of decades after “Interview With the Vampire,” Neil Jordan returns to the genre, casting sultry Gemma Arterton and ethereal Saoirse Ronan as mother-daughter vamps holed up in a dreary seaside resort. In a seasonal mood for screen bloodletting that’s slightly less, ah, refined? There’s also the Aussie dark comedy “100 Bloody Acres,” about farm-country brothers chasing after hotties as the raw material for their organic fertilizer business. Billing it as a mix of the Coen brothers and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” would be an overstatement, but that’s the idea, anyway. (“Byzantium,” IFC Films, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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